Black Bear Tracks and Signs
The black bear is my favorite animal of all that live in the Maine woods. We share our land and surrounding woods with a dozen or black bears that we know of. They’re often referred to as the “black ghost” because their padded and furred feet keep them all but silent in the woods.
This is the left front foot of a black bear cub that is approximately 15 months old. I’ve based the age on cubs being born from mid to late January. The shape of the foot tells me that it’s a front foot. Back feet are longer and narrower than the wider, rounder front foot. The big toe on a black bear is on the outside edge of the foot. The cub over wintered with its mother. Her track is below. It’s not as clear as the cub’s track because she didn’t walk through the fresh mud. Bears walk on the soles of their feet, seldom leaving a really good track. By walking on their soles, black bears are very quiet when moving through the woods. A 400 pound bear walked into a clearing so silently that I didn’t hear him coming. Imagine weighing 400 pounds and moving silently.
Bears have five toes. The smallest toe, on the inside of the foot, isn’t always visible in tracks. A mature boar’s foot is approximately 6″ wide. A sow’s foot is usually not wider than 4.5″. Black bear don’t have retractable claws so look for them in tracks.
Bear scat has many forms based mostly on what the bear has been eating. If you know what they’re eating you have a better idea of where to find them. This was taken in early spring, and the bear was eating grass and other plants.